Slaven Bilic’s West Ham suffered a third successive Premier League defeat at the weekend to leave the Hammers boss with much to ponder over the international break.
The East London outfit lost 3-2 at home to champions Leicester on Saturday, with goals from Riyad Mahrez, Robert Huth, and Jame Vardy condemning the hosts to a seventh league defeat of the season at the London Stadium.
Manuel Lanzini and Andre Ayew both netted for the Hammers as they went in search of a late equaliser, but defeat means that Bilic’s men have now not won at home since the start of January.
They sit 12th in the Premier League table, nine points clear of the bottom three, so their status in the top-flight looks safe for another year, yet Bilic will surely begin thinking about how he can take the club to the next level next season, and some summer signings may help him do just that.
And one man they’ve been linked to in recent days is Sunderland striker Jermain Defoe, who was called up to the England squad this week for the first time in four years after an excellent season in front of goal.
The 34-year-old has scored 14 goals in just 24 Premier League appearances for the Black Cats, which adds to the 15 he netted for them last year as they again staved off relegation.
And he is exactly the sort of player that could take West Ham to the next level.
There’s no doubt, as several Hammers fans will know, that Defoe is a natural goal-scorer – he is in the team to score goals.
At every club he has been at throughout his career, be it when he started out as a youngster at Upton Park or when he moved to the MLS a few years back, the forward has scored goals at a healthy rate.
41 in 105 games for West Ham; 143 in 366 matches for Tottenham; 17 in 36 games for Portsmouth; 12 in 21 for Toronto FC, and now 36 in 84 matches for Sunderland – an excellent record.
It’s not just the figures though, it’s the fact that he has scored that many goals, certainly for Pompey and Sunderland, in what are arguably pretty poor teams.
He is often the one creating something out of nothing or latching onto a hopeful ball forward to get his goals, so imagine what he’d be like in a West Ham team with the delivery of Robert Snodgrass, and the vision and technical skills of Manuel Lanzini.
West Ham have created 284 chances in the Premier League this season, compared to Sunderland’s 175, yet Defoe has still been able to get himself an excellent goal-tally, and indeed give the Black Cats are chance, albeit a fading one, of staying in the division.
And when you look at the current West Ham squad, you’re asking yourself exactly where the goals are coming from.
Andy Carroll is obviously a quality striker but cannot be relied upon to get the 20 plus goals a season needed to challenge for the European places, while the likes of Andre Ayew and Diafra Sahko have also suffered injury problems this term, and haven’t had a history of being overly prolific in England either.
Thus, having Defoe in the squad is a no-brainer – he is different to all of those forwards, and more importantly, he’ll get himself into areas to get the goals necessary, as he has done throughout his career.
The 34-year-old may earn his first England cap for over three years against Germany to further underline his fruition with age, and should he once again prove his credentials both for England and for the rest of the season at Sunderland, the Hammers should certainly look at Defoe in the summer.